SCI and the Sustainable Development Goals

SCI received an invitation for presenting our Youth Involvement in Implementing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals at the Asia-Europe Environment Forum Conference organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation in Stockholm between 19-20 October 2016. SCI activists and former Climate for Peace LTV at SCI's International Secretariat, Balázs Kajor took part, representing SCI and speaking about SCI's Climate for Peace Programme.

Here is a report by Balázs Kajor:

The conference fostered Asian and European countries adopting the 2030 Agenda, focusing on international cooperation and strong partnerships. The organizers contributed to the global efforts to bridge perspectives. Policy-makers, academic experts, development professionals from governments, business and civil society representatives were exchanging best practices, supporting a multi-stakeholder regional and international dialogue, knowledge swap and networking to help each other implement and monitor national SDG processes... Yes, indeed, it was a bit demanding to follow for an activist, who is approaching these issues from a grassroots (bottom-up) and small-scale, hands-on, practical point of view, but also inspiring to see the different ways. My belief was reinforced: both approaches are necessary, and the talk-to-action ratio should be in balance on every sides.

Participants discussed key challenges to reduce the lack of awareness about how different countries deal with SDG issues. They talked about solutions such as how evidence-based science could influence policy and support stronger governance. Among the topics economics and responsible business aspects played an important role since one of the seventeen SDGs is poverty eradication. University researchers declared social and environmental capital should be preserved, balanced and valued as well! I couldn't have agreed more, but somehow I got the feeling nature plays always only a resource role, it is part of the assets in these kind of talks. I support that opinion and movement which says Nature should have just as equal rights as humans, and should not be treated as a property.

We could hear good ideas about how the private sector's involvement could be addressed from a philanthropic point of view. Just like SCI has support through its microgrant and funds for specific topics.

Speakers highlighted the importance of gender equality and the role of rural women being empowered and also having access to education. Sharing the power among family members and between men and women would help a lot to reach SDGs. Closing the income gap would be also a highly up-to-date issue.

They agreed on that there is a clear need for third party, civil society presence. In business for example to avoid greenwashing and to watch out for ethical concerns, and in governance to help the coordination, measuring and accountability.

At the panel on how youth can and should be involved in SDGs, one of the participants highlighted that the "co-ownership of the 2030 Agenda" should be expanded to young people, too. They are not only the inheritors of the decisions, but also in many cases actors of generating new ideas and implementing innovative solutions.

In my presentation I talked about the importance of volunteering and activism. SCI workcamps are a part of the solutions for empowering impacted or marginalized communities, and they are great tools for educational purposes. I also introduced the Climate for Peace programme and its possibilities to reach out for the public to raise awareness and encourage citizens and youth to act on local levels for ecological consciousness. I emphasized that to achieve sustainability maybe we could share one of our most precious assets: our time for a good cause.

Last but not least I took notes on such keywords as interconnectedness, interdependency and interdisciplinary aspects of the answers for global challenges. That is why the closing words from the president echoed long in the room: "we should all work together".

Check out the presentation Balazs prepared for the Conference!

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